Feeling fab but fearing farewell

FABIAN Wilnis, voted as Ipswich Town's player of the month for February by East Anglian Daily Times readers, is enjoying what he fears might be his farewell season at Portman Road.

FABIAN Wilnis, voted as Ipswich Town's player of the month for February by East Anglian Daily Times readers, is enjoying what he fears might be his farewell season at Portman Road. It's ironic that he is playing some of the best football of his career, writes Tony Garnett.

He is having a tremendous run of success under new Ipswich manager Joe Royle. Wilnis explained: "The previous manager, George Burley, did not seem to have a great deal of confidence in me. Now it's different.

"Misunderstandings can happen in football and I was offered a free transfer last summer. This is probably my best season with the club. I am still only 32 and would very much like to stay. The problem is that my contract is due to expire and I don't know what the situation will be with the club in administration.

"If I cannot stay with Ipswich I would like to continue my career in England. That is my ambition.

"I am feeling good, more like a 22-year-old. When you are playing well in a winning team you seem to get over knocks and bruises so much more quickly. You don't feel tired."

Wilnis is at his most dangerous as a right wing-back. "I enjoy the freedom to push forward and perhaps score the occasional goal. I played as a striker when I was with NAC Breda.

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"I am comfortable as an attacking right-back, but I can also do a job at left-back, central defence or even in midfield."

Wilnis poses a threat with his sprints down the flank and his adventurous outlook set up Town's third goal for Jim Magilton against Reading on Tuesday night. His goal against Norwich City at Carrow Road delighted Town fans.

Ipswich Town, as they strive to reduce their wage bill, will need versatile players. Wilnis can do a job for some years to come.

Wilnis feels that Portsmouth will end the season as Division One champions. Even though Ipswich cut Harry Redknapp's side down to size in the 1-1 draw at Fratton Park on December 21, Wilnis said: "They are ever so consistent and keep winning. Their 4-0 victory at Coventry this week seemed so easy. There is no sign of their slipping up."

Pompey, though, can expect one of their biggest tests of the season when they come to Portman Road on April 18 for a Friday night special.

Wilnis feels that he has been able to hold his own against left-sided attackers this season. He has been particularly impressed by Portsmouth's Matt Taylor. "I have seen him several times on television and he has done really well."

Wilnis is no cricket fan and was unimpressed by Holland's showing in the World Cup in South Africa. At least the Dutch cricketers were involved, which is more than can be said for their footballers in Japan last summer.

Wilnis is still ever so hopeful about winning a play-off place that can be the platform to a swift return to the Premiership.

"Of course we've got a good chance," he insisted. "If we keep winning we'll be there. Clubs like Nottingham Forest and Wolves won't win all their remaining matches."

n Ipswich Town give debuts to two Bury Town and Bury football school players in their FA academy U19 game at Leicester City today. Colin Kent and Alex Harrison have been training at Ipswich this week. The U17s have a play-off game, also in the Midlands, against Derby County.

Ipswich U19s: Peat, O'Connor, Collins, Hogg, Chaffey, Boardley, Bloomfield, Kent, Harrison, Morrow, Hill and Dickinson.

U17s: Croll, Synott, Krause, Mitchell, Nash, Flack, Atay, Manning, Barron, Craig, Reid, Knights, Ainsley, Gale and Hammond.

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